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What is The Best Treatment of Cervical Cancer? A Guideline to Preventing Cervical Cancer.

Discover the most effective methods for cervical cancer treatment.

Every year, cervical cancer affects millions of women throughout the world. Only in the USA, the cervical cancer rates each year are 11,500 new cases, making it a major health problem.

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that affects the cervix, which is a reproductive organ in women. The main risk factor for this cancer is frequent infection with HPV (human papillomavirus). For detailed information about its causes and symptoms, you must check out our article about cervical cancer here.

 

Like all other cancer treatments, many studies and beneficial treatment methods are being utilized for the treatment of cervical cancer. And to help and educate people impacted by cervical cancer, this article will give a comprehensive review of the disease’s treatments, beginning with diagnosis and continuing through post-treatment care.

Prevention of Cervical Cancer

We all know that prevention is better than cure. So, reducing cervical cancer risk factors and encouraging early diagnosis are the primary goals of prevention initiatives. It includes the following measures:

1. HPV Vaccine 

An estimated 40% of American adults between the ages of 15 and 59 are infected with HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. Getting an HPV vaccination is the first choice to prevent cervical cancer. It has been well-researched that more than 90% of HPV-related malignancies can be prevented with vaccination.

The CDC recommends getting vaccinated as early as possible for teenage boys and girls, by the age of 9–12. It is also possible for individuals who were not vaccinated earlier to get the vaccine by age 26.

The most common vaccines that are used globally are Cervarix, Gardasil 9, and Gardasil. These vaccines prevent prevalent kinds of high-risk HPV. Many studies have proven the efficacy of HPV vaccines with mild and temporary side effects.

2. Cervical Screening for Early Detection

Cervical cancer screenings can detect precancerous abnormalities in the cervix and treat them before the illness progresses. If cervical cancer screening is done at early stages, the survival can be improved. The main types of cervical cancer screening tests are HPV and Pap Smear tests. These methods are proven effective by CDC and usually detect any abnormality in the cervix and make early intervention possible. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology and conducted by the National Institutes of Health, early Pap Smear screenings significantly reduced the number of cervical cancer diagnoses in the United States from year 1976 to 2009.

So, as per the American Cancer Society, the following is the recommendation of ages in which cervical cancer screening must be performed.

Test Recommended Age Frequency
Pap Smear (Pap Test) Ages 21-29 Every 3 years if results are normal
Ages 30-65 Every 3 years if results are normal
HPV Test Ages 30-65 Every 5 years

It is advised that the patient should stay away from sexual activity, douching, and the use of vaginal medications for at least two days before the test.

3. Avoid a Cervical Cancer Prevention Lifestyle

The risk of cervical cancer can be significantly reduced by adopting good lifestyle choices. Some of the best changes are mentioned below,

  • Quit Smoking: Quitting smoking is the single most effective lifestyle choice people can make to lower their risk of cervical cancer and countless other cancers. Smoking causes cancer because the carcinogens in the smoke lower the immune system and harm the DNA of cells.
  • Best Nutrition: Diet plays a huge role in cervical cancer prevention. Recent studies have shown that specific dietary patterns and antioxidant foods might lessen the effects of HPV, the main cause of cervical cancer.

It has been found that people who consume more antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and A, as well as carotenoids like zeaxanthin, beta-carotene, and lutein, are less likely to have an HPV infection, leading to cervical cancer. Some other nutrients, such as Vitamin D and folate also reduce the chances of HPV spread. As far as following a particular diet is concerned, a dietary pattern comparable to the Mediterranean diet is usually suggested as per research, to reduce the chances of HPV infection and cervical cancer.

To make it easy, here’s a science-backed table summarizing the foods to limit or avoid and the foods to eat more of:

Foods to Limit or Avoid Foods to Eat More Of
Foods high in added sugar Fruit and vegetables (variety of colors and textures)
Processed meats (such as deli meat) Complex carbs (whole grain rice, pasta, bread, couscous)
Red meats Nuts, seeds, and olive oils (healthy, unsaturated fats)
Foods high in saturated and trans fats Herbs and spices (such as onion and garlic, limiting added sodium)
Low-fat dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
Legumes (peas, lentils, beans, including garbanzo and red beans)

By combining these preventative measures, we can greatly lower the number of cases and effects of cervical cancer.

Best Methods of Cervical Cancer Treatment.

The best cervical cancer treatment method or course of action for the cure usually depends on the woman’s age, her goals of health, her overall health, treatment preferences, and the cancer’s stage. The most effective methods are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.

The doctor who will be treating the cervical cancer is a gynecological oncologist.

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Image source: https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S2666679022000040-gr2.jpg

Precancerous Treatments

If the cervical cancer screening results in the presence of precancerous cells, they can also be treated to reduce the chances of developing cervical cancer. These methods include:

  • Cryotherapy: The goal of cryosurgery is to eliminate cervical precancerous cells by utilizing liquid nitrogen, a gas that is frozen. With the use of local anesthetic, the process takes no more than a few minutes. The success rate of this procedure is 85 to 90 percent.
  • Laser ablation: Abnormal or precancerous cells can be destroyed by means of heat by laser ablation. This procedure is performed in a hospital setting under local or general anesthesia. The treatment is usually 100% successful.
  • Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP): Using an electrical current carried by a wire loop, LEEP eliminates abnormal cervical tissue. Also, this process, which requires only local anesthesia and takes no more than a few minutes, may be performed in the comfort of a doctor’s office. According to the research, LEEP effectively treats 73% to 99% of cervical dysplasia cases.
  • Cold Knife Conization: During cold knife conization, the abnormal cervical tissue is surgically removed with a scalpel. It has a success rate of 92% after cold-knife and 95% after laser conization.

Types of Cervical Cancer Treatment

The patient’s general health, treatment choices, and cancer stage and details determine the cervical cancer therapy options.  They are:

1. Surgery

Surgical excision of the cancerous tissue is one treatment option for cervical cancer. There are different types of surgeries that are done according to the spread and need of the treatment.

cervical cancer surgery types kkh

  • Cone biopsy: This surgery is done to remove a cone-shaped section of tissue surrounding the tumor, along with some healthy tissue on the edges.  It is the best treatment for those who are trying to conceive as a treatment for early-stage cervical cancer.
  • Trachelectomy: Another best option for women who want to start a family. In this procedure, the cervix and a small part of the vagina is removed. The uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are left in place.
  • Total hysterectomy: For cases of early-stage cervical cancer, a complete hysterectomy—which removes both the uterus and the cervix—is a common treatment option. It is common practice to remove the fallopian tubes during this operation as well.
  • Radical hysterectomy: It is a gold standard treatment for cervical cancer treatment and surgery. In a radical hysterectomy, her uterus, cervix, and any surrounding soft tissue, as well as her vagina, are surgically removed.
  • Bilateral salpingectomy: The removal of both fallopian tubes is done during a bilateral salpingectomy.
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy: It is usually utilized when a hysterectomy patient’s cancer has metastasized to the ovaries. It involves the removal of both fallopian tubes and ovaries.

2. Radiation Therapy

The second most common treatment is radiation therapy which is also known as radiotherapy. It treats cancer by destroying or damaging cancer cells with a regulated amount of radiation. Targeting the areas of the body affected by cancer, the radiation is often administered by x-ray beams.

The main goal of this treatment is to do as little damage as it can be. It can be done in conjunction with other therapies, such as chemotherapy, as an early intervention in the early stages of cancer. the second one being with the surgery to reduce the chances of spread.

Radiation therapy can be delivered both externally and internally and both methods are used for cervical cancer treatment.

  • External Beam Radiotherapy: The external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses a machine to precisely focus radiation beams from outside the body. Treatment is usually given once a day for five days and lasts up to 6 months.Screenshot 2024 06 24 042507
  • Internal Beam Radiotherapy: Also known as brachytherapy, focuses the radiation straight to the tumor from inside the body. It is given as a follow-up after an ERBT process. The most common type of therapy given in the USA is high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy, which requires three to four sessions spread out over two to four weeks.

It’s a common misconception that these radiations make you radioactive, but science doesn’t support it.

3. Chemotherapy

In chemotherapy, cancer cells are killed or slowed down, while beneficial cells endure damage as little as possible. Like surgery and radiotherapy, it can also be done as an adjunctive procedure. This procedure is usually given intravenously as an outpatient. The course and administration are usually decided by the healthcare provider.

This treatment has the most common side effects such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, thinning hair, an increased susceptibility to infections, and menopause (whether temporary or permanent).

4. Targeted Therapy

One form of pharmacological treatment for cancer is targeted therapy, which aims to stop the disease’s progression by attacking particular characteristics of cancer cells. It is the choice of treatment for patients whose cervical cancer has returned or has metastasized (spread to other areas of the body) and is resistant to radiation treatment or surgery.

The most commonly administered therapy in this case is bevacizumab. It can be administered along with chemotherapy and usually follows a course of three weeks. This treatment also has side effects such as a high BP, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Bleeding, blood clots, and wound healing issues are less prevalent adverse effects.

5. Immunotherapy

Another new form of treatment is immunotherapy which helps the body’s own immune system to fight with cervical cancer. Doctors may prescribe the immunotherapy medicine pembrolizumab to certain patients, especially when other treatments for cervical cancer have failed, the disease has progressed, or the cancer has returned. Pembrolizumab is one example of an immunotherapy drug that has the potential to treat cervical cancer.

It can be administered with bevacizumab. or other chemotherapy drugs and their side effects are minimal, such as fatigue, diarrhea, itching, and joint discomfort.

Stage-Wise Treatment of Cervical Cancer

If the cancer has reached and might be advancing to further stages, the doctor may suggest performing a surgical procedure, radiotherapy, or a combination of many as per the stage and condition of the patient. It can be divided as per research.

Treatment can be a single or a combination of different therapies, depending on your condition. 

If the tumor growth is relatively small, a woman might receive one treatment only; however, if the cancer has progressed significantly, she may undergo several treatment procedures.

Fertility Preservation

If you are diagnosed with early-stage cancer and would still desire to have children, here are surgical treatments that can maintain fertility without compromising treatment. These treatments include,

  • After a cone biopsy, if the cone’s edges do not contain cancer cells, a finding is known as negative margins, then she can pursue her conception.
  • If cone biopsy shows cancer cells around its edges, a finding known as positive margins, then there is a chance that some cancer cells are left behind. In this case, a radical trachelectomy and another cone biopsy can be done for the removal of cancerous cells.
  • If the cone biopsy reveals that it has spread to cones and lymph nodes, then the treatment options include the removal of abnormal lymph nodes and radical trachelectomy.

Cervical Cancer Treatment if Fertility Preservation is Not Preferred

If a woman prefers not to retain her fertility, then a simple hysterectomy is the solution. It is ideal for women whose biopsy shows no lymphovascular invasion and no cancer cells at the biopsy margins. If the cancer cells are detected then racial hysterectomy is performed along with the affected lymph nodes.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer Stage 1

When cervical cancer is in its early stages, treatment focuses on preventing the disease from spreading beyond the cervix. At this point, the cancer cells have expanded from the surface and penetrated deeper tissue layers through the basement membrane.

Most of the time, a hysterectomy is the initial course of therapy for cervical cancer stage I. In most cases, when it comes to younger people, surgery is usually the way to go, whereas radiation is the way to go for older ones.  Recurrence risk assessment is usually performed on the patient following surgery. The adjunct radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or both may be prescribed if the recurrence risk is moderate to high.

It is still suggested to utilize radical radiation therapy alone when the patient is unwilling to undergo chemotherapy or surgery, or when the underlying condition is too severe to undergo any of these treatments.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer Stage 2

In this stage, the cancer has invaded the vagina and surrounding lymph nodes. In such cases, treatment options often begin with radiation therapy (both internal and external), followed by chemotherapy or a combination of the two.

In some cases, where tumor has advanced to the upper two-thirds of the vagina but is less than 4 cm in size. Then hysterectomy is the initial line of treatment followed by radiation therapy.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer Stage 3

A customized treatment plan will be initiated by the doctor, which may involve radiation (both external and internal) in conjunction with chemotherapy or immunotherapy. In advanced cases, surgery to remove the uterus and cervix is not recommended due to the spread of the cancer.

Treatment of Cervical Cancer Stage 4

The cancer in this stage has spread to surrounding body parts and organs. So, the standard treatment for cervical cancer in this stage is a combination of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (both internal and external) to slow the disease’s progression, alleviate symptoms, and enhance the quality of life.

Here is a small table that summarizes all the treatments available for cervical cancer.

USP1509 Cervical T2

As we have explored the fight against cervical cancer is still going on. We are slowly but surely changing the tide against this illness via more public understanding of it, more easily available screening options, and innovative therapies.

But also remember that a cervical cancer diagnosis does not spell death. Treatment methods exist that are shown to be successful and have the potential to significantly enhance results. Many women are able to beat this condition and have healthy, fulfilling lives once it is detected early and treated properly. More tailored medicines, which are less intrusive and have fewer adverse effects, have been developed as a result of medical advancements. The prognosis is generally excellent for patients whose cancer is detected at an early stage.

While not easy, beating cervical cancer is possible.

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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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